The piano is one of the most recognizable instruments in the world, both by sight and by sound. Sadly, and criminally, it is highly under used metal these days. It plays back up to the guitar, drums, even the bass when it could be front and center, the sound and pitch range on the piano is far greater and the emotional range of the piano is greater than nearly all instruments combined. I know that statement might sound a little facetious or pedantic but when you think about it, the piano is the most underappreciated and vilified instrument in all of metal. Sure keyboards are used by some bands to add ambiance or to hold together a melody but nothing is really built around the piano. After listening to “Magic Night” by a highly recommended Violet Cold, I can say I found a band that knows how to use the piano properly.
Magic Night is not the newest release from Violet Cold, nor indeed is it even the only release this year, but the latest album is a noise ambient album and I’m not confident in myself to be able to review that yet. Magic Night, on the other hand, is a perfect blend of pure, spacy ambient music and black metal. It feels like the ambient sections of the songs were lifted from Star Trek, there’s an optimism to the sound, a fervor for adventure and exploration. It’s hard to quantify or put into words but it sounds familiar. There’s a regal melancholy in the piano at the beginning that underscores the whole album that doesn’t fade out once the black metal side of the project kicks in. It stays constant, a solid bedrock that the whole sound of the album is built upon. Normally black metal relies on the drums, thin as they are at times, to build a foundation for the sound and while it worked for Darkthrone, it doesn’t work for a lot of other bands that try and copy that sound. Violet Cold has found a foundation that works, at least for this album (the project seeks to the very diverse from album to album so who’s to say it will be the same the nest time around). The black metal is solid as well, and has all that you can ask for from a black metal band: blast beats, tremolo picking, nearly inaudible bass work. It might not be ground breaking but the music is enjoyable with a sort of “driving to the edge of the cliff” sort of pacing. I liked it. It’s intense yet not overly bombastic, allowing the ambient sounds and the piano to take a larger role in the soundscapes. It’s a highly enjoyable album, one of those that you can listen to with a bottle of dark beer and a starry night.